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Guest Reviews – Looking into the Future

I read an article yesterday about Google + where the author states:

“Google has built upon some of the best features of existing social media sites in an attempt to make search less about computer algorithms and more about real people.”  [Reference]

It’s not only Google +  that wants “real people” to help decide the fate of any business; it’s Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Places, Citysearch, Yahoo Local, InsiderPages, JudysBook, Superpages, YellowPages, Kudzu, and the list goes on and on.

Here are 3 examples of these sites “encouraging” public input.

Example 1: Google Places (Online Search)

Notice how with the most recent display changes in Google Places that they are now encouraging the user to Write a Review and Upload an Image practically at the very top of the results page?  This would allow a user to write a GOOGLE REVIEW by clicking this button.

Example 2: Google Places (Mobile Search)

This is a screen capture from an iPhone using the Google Places App.  Notice at the bottom (highlighted in yellow) that the App was using GPS to identify my location, and ask me if I was near "Ted's Montana Grill" and encouraging me to Rate Now.  This happens on this App often.  When you use this App, it identifies your current location and it "querys" the user to see if they have been to a particular establishment, and encourages you to rate it.  Right there on your mobile device.  Again, this review would be counted as a Google Review.

Want to learn more about Google Places in the Mobile World and what it means to your bottom line? Take a few minutes and watch the video:

Example 3: TripAdvisor

Did you know that TripAdvisor is sending their subscribers emails that look like this one below?  They remind them the review they wrote has been "READ" by x number of travelers, and then encourage the subscriber to "Write a New Review".   Amazing the tactics these companies are using to entice the user to "talk" about you!

As you can see, acquiring Reviews is not a passive activity to these companies.  They are actively going out and recruiting the public to “talk” about your business.

A wise innkeeper is going to embrace the fact that this is happening, and act accordingly by following these steps:
  1. Be aware of all reviews written for your business.
    You MUST watch your online reputation at the bare minimum of once a week.  Daily is optimum. Consider using Google Alerts to help you watch what people are saying about your business.
    Don't know how to user Google Alerts?  Sign up for Acorn University, it's one of the classes we teach!
  2. Address any criticisms with a PROFESSIONAL managerial response.
    And for good measure, it’s a good idea to respond to positive ones from time to time!
  3. Take an active part in requesting POSITIVE reviews from HAPPY guests as part of your thank-you correspondence.

As a past innkeeper myself, I realize that dealing with Reviews (good or bad) can be a scary task.  You do your very best to make a guest’s stay “top notch”.  But sometimes you just end up with a “grumpy guest” that you simply cannot please.  It’s important to take the situation in hand quickly, deal with it, and move on.  Your business depends on it!

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A Parting Note – Acording to the following article, review companies such as TripAdvisor do not have Carte Blanche regarding their content.

… “there is no guarantee that the company [TripAdvisor] will avoid future liability and potential expense for legal claims based on the content available on TripAdvisor’s websites.” [Reference]

Lisa Kolb
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.

Educating our Industry One Client at a Time!

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